Variable colour in direct mail increases sharply

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on February 28, 2007

Although there has been a significant increase in the usage of variable colour (different images and content for different campaign segments), response rates from direct mail using variable colour have remained consistent, according to a research study conducted by UK-based direct marketing services firm GI Direct.

The research was conducted among the UK's top 1,000 company's marketers, who reported the average response uplift from the use of variable colour to be 32.6%.

No change - or is there?
However, similar research conducted in 2004 among a similar audience reported a 33.4% uplift from the use of variable colour in direct mail. Statistically speaking, there is no significant difference between the 2004 and 2006 response uplift figures.

But over this period, the use of variable colour in direct mail has risen by one-third, from just over 30% (31.8%) to almost 40% (39.1%). In other words, GI Direct's research found that variable colour direct mail response rates have held steady despite the significant increase in its usage.

Sector 2005 2006
Utilities 18% 23%
Charities 30% 33%
Insurance 27% 34%
Credit cards 28% 37%
Banks 30% 39%
Telecoms 27% 42%
Hotels 38% 45%
Travel 42% 47%
Retail 41% 48%

Table 1: Use of variable colour in creative direct mail
Source: GI Direct

Confidence in segmentation
These findings are good news for direct marketers, whether in-house or agency based, as they can at least have the confidence to invest more of their marketing budget in highly segmented, personalised, colour campaigns.

According to Patrick Headley, sales director for GI Direct, "In psychological terms, these findings are interesting, first regarding the extent to which consumers appreciate effective personalisation and relevance, and second as a reminder that impact can be preserved when using discrete media such as direct mail."

The fact that the increased usage of variable colour in direct marketing has not suppressed response rates implies that consumers are more receptive to targeted communications.

Responses not declining yet
Headley concluded: "It would be nave to think that personalised marketing will not reach a point where it is so universal that response rates may fall somewhat. However it would appear that, at present, we are very far from that point, and that consumers are simply enjoying the more relevant and tailored marketing offers they are receiving."

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